HARRIS COUNTY ATTORNEY VINCE RYAN'S OFFICE WINS ORDER TO SHUT DOWN SMOKE SHOP SELLING VAPE OIL LACED WITH DANGEROUS SYNTHETIC SUBSTANCES

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s Office obtained a Temporary Restraining Order on Thursday, June 21, to close down the Time Zone Smoke Shop, 5853 W Gulf Bank Road, in north Houston for selling synthetic cannabinoids, illegal gambling, and selling alcohol without a permit. The Houston Police Department Narcotics Division found laced vaping oil, large amounts of synthetic marijuana, PCP, natural marijuana, synthetic urine, 18 gambling machines, large amounts of cash, alcoholic beverages, and numerous credit cards in different names inside the store.

Syed Abidi and his sister, Tabbasum ("Tabby") Bhimji, owners and operators of the smoke shop, were named in the lawsuit along with the landlord, White Lotus Investments LLC.

The HPD Narcotics Division conducted an undercover operation at the store and made several purchases of cannabidiol (CBD). The non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems -- everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. But experts say the evidence is scant for most of these touted benefits and because CBD is produced without any regulation products can vary widely in quality, and may be contaminated with dangerous additives.

Lab reports showed the oil seized at the smoke shop was mixed with synthetic cannabinoids, human made, mind- altering chemicals. These chemicals are sold as a liquid to be vaped in e-cigarettes or are sprayed on plant material to create "Kush". Kush is dangerous, highly addictive and illegal in Texas. Also called "Spice" and "K2," synthetic cannabinoids can cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.

Police officers believe the brother and sister duo were operating the store as a front for the distribution of illegal narcotics, an illegal game room, and credit card theft. Abidi and Bhimji were charged with the felony offense of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. The location of Time Zone Smoke Shop has been a concern. The strip center next to the smoke shop includes an adult day care center, a barber shop, a convenience store and several other businesses.

Law enforcement agencies report there has been an increased use of "laced" CBD oil, particularly by teenagers and young adults.

"My office will continue the fight, together with law enforcement and state, county, and city officials, to put a stop to shop owners who sell these dangerous chemicals," County Attorney Ryan said. "We will continue to seek substantial fines against them and shut down their businesses entirely if necessary."

The restraining order requires that the smoke shop stay closed until the hearing on the Temporary Injunction set for June 29, 2018.

Click on the hyperlinks to view the County Attorney’s lawsuit and the court order.